I-526 data: 5-year lows for filing, processing & approvals

  • Posted on October 11, 2019 | Updated on January 13, 2020 | 5 min read

IIUSA has published a report on I-526 data and the numbers are way down. Q3 2019 saw 5-year quarterly lows for filing, adjudication and approvals. While it has been documented that processing times have slowed down, approval rates may now shock people: last quarter, only 58% of I-526 petitions were approved, down from 82% in Q2 2019 and the 5-year high of 97% in Q3 2018.

2019 I 526 processing data

2019 Q3 single-quarter highlights

Filings

The last quarter saw only 615 I-526 applications filed, with 579 applications adjudicated, and just 58% approved. This is a sharp drop from 1,808 filings in Q1 2019 and way down from a 5-year high of 6,575 in Q4 2015.

Adjudications

Q3 2019 had just 579 I-526 adjudications (note this is from the total group of pending I-526 applications, not the applications submitted that quarter). This is a big drop from the 2,573 adjudicated in the first quarter of 2019; and it represents roughly a quarter of the 4,154 processed in Q3 of 2018, a 5-year high. Processing has been trending down every quarter since that high.

Approval rate

A shocking 58% of I-526 applications were approved last fiscal quarter. This is the lowest number by a large margin in the past five years. Compare this with the 97% approval rate just a year ago, in Q3 2018. 

2019 Q1-Q3 highlights

Filings

3003 I-526 petitions were filed in the first three quarters of 2019.  This is about 60% of the 5,086 that were filed in the same period of 2018. This is a significant drop from the 8,638 filed in the Q1-Q3 of 2016. 

Adjudications

4,127 petitions were processed in the first three quarters of FY 2019. The first three quarters of the previous fiscal year saw 5-year highs in processing volume when 10,813 EB5 green card petitions were processed. The adjudications in 2019 are only 38% of those made in the same period year over year, and represent 5-year lows.

Approval rate

While Q1 and Q2 saw decent approvals rates of 85% and 82%, respectively, Q3 dropped the three-quarter average to just 75%. Average approval rates for the first three quarters in the past five years have been over 90%; but 2016 saw similarly low approval rates with an average of 77% in the first three quarters.

Conclusion

Filings, adjudications, and approvals are at 5-year lows. Expect Q4 of 2019 to see a spike in filings to beat the November 21 date when EB-5 investment amounts rise 80% to $900,000 for Targeted Employment Area (TEA) and $1.8 million for non-TEA projects. Questions to ponder: will a rush in filings create a trend of very low approval rates? Will the new regulations impact processing time and will USCIS return to the very high processing volume of just a year ago? Time will tell.

For for comprehensive five-year data, see the IIUSA report.

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